Book Review: Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal

War Stories From The Local Food Front

This book is Joel Salatin's story of his battles with federal, state and local laws that make it difficult for a small, natural farmer to make a living.  He really ties the strings together to show that "big agra" controls the law makers, the code enforcement, and the researchers.

It's amazing how seemingly arbitrary rules and regulations can have such a far reaching effect.  For instance...  if you own a cow, and take it to a "custom" slaughterhouse, they can butcher it, package it up, and deliver it back to you to eat, share with friends, whatever you want to do.  No federal inspections are necessary.  Alternatively, you can butcher your own cow on your own property, and eat it or give it away.  But let's say you have enough beef in the freezer...  You have an extra cow and could use some extra money.  Can you butcher it on your own property to sell?  Not under any circumstances.  Can you take it to the uninspected "custom" slaughterhouse to have it packaged for sale?  Nope.  Can you get it slaughtered and butchered at an inspected slaughterhouse along with 1,000 other cows from parts unknown?  Yep.  But then can you sell it at your front yard produce stand?  Nope.  It's a manufactured item and you're zoned agricultural and you can only sell items produced on your farm.  If it is truly a concern for food safety, why is anyone aloud to eat uninspected beef?  In reality, the purpose is to make it difficult and expensive to avoid mass produced, feedlot finished beef from the major suppliers.

How about this...  It's unsafe for children to operate machinery, so there are child labor laws to address it.  You can't hire your neighbor's 14 year old kid to gut and butcher your chickens because it is dangerous.  But that same kid can stalk the woods with a 12 gauge shotgun and gut and butcher his own deer.  Or you can pay your own kid to do the chickens... so is it too dangerous for a 14 year old kid or not?  What about that kid's older brother?  The 16 year old neighbor's kid can get a driver's license and drive a car on the interstate at 70 miles an hour in heavy traffic with hundreds of other cars also going 70 miles an hour.  But you can't hire him to drive your old farm truck at 5 miles an hour towing a hay trailer.  It's too dangerous they say.  But you can hire your own kid to do it.  See how ridiculous it is?

Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal should be required reading for every elected office holder.  I have to believe that most of them truly think they are doing the right thing, but they just don't have any context or common sense with which to compare.  If you are at all interested in natural or "alternative" foods, it is worth it for you to read as well.  Joel is a good story teller and mixes humor in with the facts to keep it flowing.


Greenhouse Raising

Building The Greenhouse, Part I

My Dad came by this afternoon to help put together my Christmas present, a PVC pipe-based greenhouse of his design.  We've got the basic frame done, but ran out of pipe to finish the roof structure.  When done, it will be 6' x 6' x 6' with a 45 degree angled roof, wrapped in heavy clear plastic pool cover.  We'll put contractor-grade trash bags as the rear wall to help retain some heat.  I'll also use black, water filled buckets along the back wall.

The plan is to get the remaining parts in the morning, and get it done tomorrow afternoon.  When we finish, I'll take some pictures and get them up here.  Next step... find some wire shelves or bakers' racks at Goodwill to use to hold my plants.


Big Box Blues

Shopping Local

I'm not one of those people who hates Wal-Mart.  I usually include them in my price checks on groceries and other items, and they frequently win.  Sometimes it's a pain dealing with the drooling zombie masses, but it's also entertaining to shop in the middle of the night and see what people buy at 3 in the morning.  Dead of winter, and you have to wonder about the three apples, garden hose, Barbie doll and some hair dye.  I freqent Lowe's and Home Depot, but I also shop my local hardware store too.

We have a gun and fishing store around here called Green Top, that has been in business in the same location for at least 40 years.  In the past few years, a Gander Mountain and a Bass Pro Shop have opened up within a 2 mile triangle of Green Top.  When they opened, many predicted the death of the local business, but just the oposite has happened.  Gander Mountain is usually deserted.  Bass Pro is usually overflowing with "destination" shoppers.  Green Top is busier than ever, and there is usually a line three deep at the gun counter.  But what about prices?  A few years ago, I had a couple hundred dollars of Christmas money that I wanted to spend on black powder, smokeless powder, primers, and brass.  Gander Mountain was cheaper than Bass Pro, but Green Top came in far below them both.  I got nearly twice as much as I would have if I bought at the big places.

Sometimes, prices don't mean as much as customer service.  I've had bad luck here at Bass Pro lately.  If I need a shirt or something that I can get at any department store, then all I need is a check out at the register and Bass Pro works fine.  If I need more, they have not measured up.  Today was typical.  I went to the gun counter, and there were no other customers.  I found where they Ruger .22 pistols were, but didn't see the model I wanted.  I asked if they had it or could get it.  "No" was the only answer I got.  No "sorry," no "let me see if I can order it," no "this other one has similar features."  Just a flat "no."  I made my way to Gander Mountain... same search and question.  They did better.  I got a "Sorry, no we don't have it.  I could order it but don't know how long it might take to get in."  I made my way the half mile to Green Top and wound my way through the throngs at the gun counter, and sure enough, they had the gun I was looking for in stock.  The nice counterman pulled it out and let me take a look at it.  They also had it for a cheaper price than the other two had on the standard Ruger .22 models.  I still have one more local place to check, but if they don't have it, Green Top will continue to get my business.

I wouldn't ask folks to buy local and small just for the sake of saying you buy local and small.  But at least give them a chance, and compare prices and customer service before making your purchases.  Most towns have their long standing gun shops, and they don't stay in business for decades just "because."


Full Auto Frolics

Keep The Change You Filthy Animals

I took my wife down to an indoor range today where I had made arrangements to let her fire a Thompson Submachine Gun.  She's always wanted to so that she could give that famous line from Home Alone.  I made a couple calls to the range over the past month, and made tentative plans for it to happen today.  Although the sell Class III/NFA weapons, they don't typically rent their full-autos.  I guess I caught them in the Christmas spirit or something.

We took my wife's .357 Taurus and my Colt Agent .38 so that we could get some trigger time on them.  First thing, we went through a range orientation and safety quiz with a few other couples that were there to use the range.  We had to use range ammo for the Thompson, and I went ahead and bought range ammo for our wheelguns.  Unlike a lot of indoor ranges, their ammo was not high priced.  After range fees, buying a few targets, and the ammo (150 .45 fmj, 100 .38 fmj, and 50 .357 fmj) + tax, the total was only $139.  No charge to rent the Thompson, and no fee for the range master/instructor... although I did give him a $20 in thanks when we were done.

We used 30 round stick magazines, putting 25 rounds in each one for ease of keeping track.  My wife shot 100 rounds and I took care of 50.  It was really cool seeing the huge grin on her face after each magazine was completed.  We dumped all 150 rounds on one target, and you can really see the tendency of the Thompson to pull from low left to high right with each burst.  We kept to 3 to 5 round bursts for the most part, but there were a couple of 10 to 15 round bursts mixed in.  After getting home, we counted the holes in the target and can account for 143 impacts, but there were two places with ragged holes and no way to be sure no rounds went in there.

If you've never fired full auto before, you really should try it at least once.  It is a real treat and as my wife put it, "empowering."  Find out who your local Class III dealers are and see if they can steer you to a range that rents them.  You can also consider a trip to the semi-annual machinegun shoot in Knob Creek, Kentucky.  Your local police department may have a public range day or citizens' police academy where they let residents shoot their weapons.  Since the place we went doesn't normally rent full autos, I won't name them, but if you are in the Tidewater, Virginia area, listen for their ad on the radio that mentions Class III.

After finishing with the Thompson, we were then left to our own devices with our wheelguns.  My Colt functioned flawlessly as I knew it would, and I did some practice with my speedloader and some speedstrips.  My wife's Taurus started shaving lead with the magnum rounds, indicating that the timing is off on it.  After getting two pieces in my cheek to point of dripping blood, we set the Taurus aside (good thing I had bandaids in my EDC kit on my belt).  I'll be sending it back to Taurus for their lifetime warranty work.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Santa Report

I got some cool gear for Christmas that I'll be reviewing over the next few weeks for you all.
Cobra 75WXST CB radio with NOAA weather radio built in
Cobra S300 external speaker
FireStick II tunable CB antenna
Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal, by Joel Salatin (I actually got two copies, I'll be giving one away to a lucky reader soon)
Folks, This Ain't Normal, by Joel Salatin
Eno camping hammock
Spy Net night vision goggles (these things are a kids' toy, but are of a better quality than the 1st generation Soviet monocular that I had as a small town cop in the mid-90s that cost over a thousand bucks and weighed close to 5 pounds)
a custom PVC/plastic sheeting green house kit that my Dad designed and he's coming over one day later this week to help me put it together

What prep gear did you get or give this year?


Merry Christmas


I'm going to shut down for the weekend and spend the time with family.  I hope that each of you will have a wonderful Christmas, filled with joy and the spirit of the season.

As I spend time with my family, I'll also keep in mind and in my prayers those who are in harm's way serving and protecting our freedoms, as well as those who have had losses and poor health.

I''ll be back Monday with a report on the prep presents (prepsents?) that I gave and received this Christmas.

Have a Merry Christmas!


Conspiracy Theory Thursday

Dec. 21, 2012

Of course, you've heard about the concern some folks have that the world will end a year from yesterday.  Seems the ancient Mayans made a calendar that stopped on Dec. 21st of next year.  I've got worse news.  Hallmark produced a "playful puppies" calendar that stops on Feb. 29th of next year.  Could that be the end?

G.I. Joe Is Un-Constitutional

I was flipping channels this evening and came across the cartoon show, G.I. Joe - Renegade.  The Joe Team was involved in an operation with a small town sheriff to capture a biker gang.  Why is G.I. Joe, a U.S. military unit, violating Posse Commitatus and enforcing civilian laws?  Are the producers of G.I. Joe under the thumb of the Administration and undertaking to condition our children to accept military participation in civilian law enforcement?

Kim Jong Il's Cause Of Death

They claim that Kim Jong Il died of a heart attack caused by stress and overwork.  In reality, he died of a virus that he caught while reviewing his son's secret military unit.  He died of a Kalishna Cough.


Glockin' Around The Christmas Tree

Vacation Plans

My wife and I both have the week off between Christmas and New Years.  While there will be a lot of rest & relaxation, along with some yard work and garden prep, we'll also have some time for a little productive fun.  We're going to an indoor range that has full auto weapons available to rent.  She's always wanted to shoot a Thompson and will finally be able to say, "keep the change, you filthy animal."

We'll also take my Glock 17, her Taurus .357, and my Colt Agent.  I plan to do some speedloader drills with the Agent.

Will you be able to send any rounds downrange over Christmas?

Post #357

I realized that last night's post was #357.  Does that make it my "magnum opus?"  Ba dum dum!  Thank you folks, I'll be here all week.  Don't forget to tip your waitress and bartender.


Product Review: Mini Mag LED

Mini Mag LED

Back in my cop days, I carried a regular old Mini Mag Lite.  Back then, it was pretty much that, or a full sized Mag Lite or Kel Light.  When I got promoted to Sgt., I switched to a gold colored Mini Mag to match my badge and the snaps and buckle on my Sam Browne belt.  The Mini Mags were bright enough to look under a car seat, or find your keys if you dropped them.  A traffic stop or building search called for the big one to come out of the car bracket.  The batteries lasted long enough, but the bulb was fragile, and only good for about an hour of steady light.  In the mid-90's, the SureFire style of tactical flashlights came out.  They were bright, compact, and durable.  They were also about $60-80 and the batteries were pretty steep, too.  These days, there is an amazing variety of flashlights available in all price ranges.  Times are good for the flashlight fan.

I got an early Christmas present at work yesterday.  It's the Mini Mag Lite LED.  This is the newest version with a four way "multi-mode electronic switch."  Turn it on and it is at 100%.  Turn it off and back on quickly, and it is 25% power, intended for reading.  Off and back on gets you a flashing light, about once a second.  One more time and it flashes SOS in Morse code.  Do it again and you are back to 100%.  It's pretty bright, and according to the specs, has a long battery life.  I'm pretty impressed by this light.  It's familiar, like an old friend, but with some cool new features.  It will have a home in my Element, right above the sun visor.  It's not available on Amazon yet, but I think it came from Lowe's.  If you need a last minute gift for a prepper on your list, pick one up.


Prepper Ponderings

Christmas Present From Dave Canterbury

For a very limited time, Dave is offering free downloads of all copies so far of his great magazine, Self Reliance Illustrated.  Take these free gifts and show thanks by liking him on Facebook and subscribing to the magazine if you like it.  Get the free downloads here.

Economic Collapse At The Cold Stone

I stopped at my local Cold Stone Creamery today to pick up some gift cards for folks in my office for Christmas.  As he was ringing me up, the manager mentioned that their gift card sales are down 50 to 75% from previous years, and that was an indicator that their first quarter of next year will be down significantly.  He then asked me if I had heard of American 20.  It is apparently the latest video from the same financial guy that has had the doomsday predictions going for the last year or so, advertised on Drudge and Glenn Beck and what not.  I mentioned one of his earlier prediction videos some time ago in a post.  Anyway, this Cold Stone manager is concerned about economic collapse and devaluation of our money.  I pulled a nickel out of my pocket and asked him if he knew about the pre-65 silver coins.  He didn't, so I explained how the coins used to be mostly silver, and in 1965, they were debased to the alloy.  I told him that a dollar in pre-65 quarters was now worth about $32.  I then told him about the melt value of a nickel already being more than five cents and that there is likelihood that nickels will be changed to a cheap alloy in the next couple years.  He immediately understood about saving spare nickels for the future.  He also mentioned that he's planning to invest in foreign currency as a way to hold value.  I don't know anything about that, and my gift cards were ready, so the conversation ended.  It was an interesting indication of how concern about our economic future is hitting folks.

Coolest Santa Ever


Flying Home For Christmas... With Your Pistol

Flying Armed

Lots of folks will be traveling in the air this week.  It's scary times out there, and if you can legally carry a pistol, why would you not do so?  If you've never flown with a gun before, it is actually one of the easier things to do, and really has not changed much at all since 9/11... unlike every other aspect of air travel.

I've flown with guns for many years.  Even as a young teenager flying alone and spending my summers in Idaho, I took guns and had no problems.  (A funny side note, when I was 13, flying by myself, I took a "bump" for a later flight while on a layover in Chicago in exchange for a free ticket.  This was before cell phones, so I called my grandparents collect from a payphone and told them my new arrival time and flight information.  I can't imagine that happening these days without a federal case being made out of it.)  At 14, I traveled out and back with a .22 rifle.  At 15, I took a .22 revolver and my Winchester 94 .30-30.  At 16, I flew out with my .22 revolver, my 1911 .45, and my M1 Carbine.  I came back that year with the same guns plus a brand new .38 special derringer... but that is another story in and of itself.  Back then, you had to carry them unloaded, in a locked, hard shell case, and declare them at the check-in counter.  The airline counter person would have you open the case so they could look at them, then watch as you locked the case.  They then attached a bright orange tag to the outside of the case that said "Unloaded Firearm."  Depending on the airline, if you were traveling with a locked pistol case, and it was inside of your regular suitcase, the orange tag was attached to the pistol case and inside your suitcase.  Sometime in the 90s, I believe, someone realized the orange tag was an attention getter to thieves, so they started putting them on the inside of the locked cases.

During all that time, I never flew without at least one knife, and usually two.  As a kid, I carried a Swiss Army Knife and a lockblade of questionable quality.  Later, a SAK and a Spyderco Endura were my flying companions.

Today, it still varies from airport to airport and some airlines have their own special rules and regulations, so check your specific details before you fly.

Generally, it goes like this...  You still have your unloaded guns in a locked, hard sided case.  The typical plastic carrying case that a new pistol comes in that can be locked with a padlock is not good enough as it can usually be pried open far enough for the gun to slide out.  Invest in a quality case with locking latches.  They are not all that expensive.  You can have ammo in there with the guns, but it can't be in a magazine or speed loader or something similar.  It needs to be in a manufacturer's cardboard box, or another container specifically designed to carry ammo.  You let the counter person know that you have to declare an unloaded firearm.  She'll weigh and tag your case, then call for a TSA person.  The TSA guy will escort you to a private location where you give him the key and he opens the case, ensuring that it contains unloaded guns and properly packaged ammo.  He locks it, gives you back the key, and tags it as having been inspected.  He then gets it into the baggage handlers care.  I've been to one airport where they X-rayed it but did not open it, another where they had me open in and show them they were unloaded.  The best advice is to research you airport and airline's rules, and have printouts of what they (and TSA) say on their websites.  Here's the link for the TSA information page.

In addition to making sure that you and your guns are legal in your destination, be careful with your midpoints.  I've heard at least one story of an traveler on a layover in NYC, and his flight gets cancelled.  He gets his checked baggage (including his cased firearms) and the airline puts him up in a hotel overnight.  The next morning, he goes to check in for his rescheduled flight, and when he tries to declare his firearms, he gets locked up for having unregistered guns in New York.  Even if you don't get convicted in such a circumstance, it could lead to the seizure of your guns, extensive time invested, and a lot of money for lawyers, fines, etc...

Don't let confusion or rumors keep you from being armed for safety while going home for the holidays.  Do your research, have the right gear, and allow a little extra time for the process at check in.

Christmas Music Suggestion

Today I picked up a new CD, A Very She & Him Christmas.  She & Him is a kind of retro folk duet made up of a guy named M. Ward and the actress Zooey Deschanel.  She has a great voice, and they play ukulele, guitar and piano to the Christmas standards.  She kind of gives a flavor of a smoke filled big band lounge, but with a mix of a talented folk act playing for tips in a park.  I especially like the reversed rendition of "Baby It's Cold Out There" where she is convincing him to stay.  Give A Very She & Him Christmas a listen if you like the classics.


Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal, Too

Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms

I first heard of Joel Salatin a few years ago.  He pops up in Mother Earth News and other rural living magazines.  I found him and his views on food liberty to be interesting, and inspiring.  I've been meaning to pick up his book, Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal, for a while, and have it on my Christmas list for this year.  He's not talking about things that are illegal like murder, burglary, or even toxic waste disposal in a creek.  He talks about things like butchering grass fed beef on his own farm for direct sale.  Things like raw milk and fresh, natural, but uninspected butter.  Things that are delicious and good for us, but don't have the government/Monsanto stamp of approval.

His "beyond organic" farm is in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  His family farm produces salad bar beef, pigerator pork, pastured poultry (they actually raise turkeys in a grape arbor), forage-based rabbits and forestry products.  The ship nothing, but sell to 3,000 families in Va. and Md. through urban drop locations, 50 restaurants and 10 local grocery stores, along with their farm store.  The farm is open for visitors to freely come and look around and wander about six days a week.  He's published a number of books for farmers, foodies, and liberty-minded folks, and is very popular on the speaking circuit.  He was also in the eye-opening movie, Food, Inc.  In his promotion of local farming and food, he has an apprenticeship program, and a number of his former apprentices have gone on to operate their own farms using his principles and he links to their sites for people who might live closer to them than to him.  They are in Pennsylvania, Oregon, Iowa, and other parts of Virginia.  Joel's website is http://www.polyfacefarms.com/.

Last weekend, the Richmond Times Dispatch had a nice long article about Joel and his philosophies.  Give it a read for some good background on him.

Today, Jack Spirko at The Survival Podcast had an hour and a quarter interview with Joel on his show.  That is well worth the listen.

Come springtime I plan to make a sweep through the western part of Virginia and will pay a visit to the farm and write an in depth post.  I'm also trying to coordinate the logistics of getting in on the nearest drop location for orders.  If Santa grants my wish, I'll do a full review of Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal.

Supporting local farming is good for you, your family, and even the environment.


Christmas Can Be A Disaster

Prepping For Christmas

I'm not some kind of Scrooge, but Christmas and other holidays can lead to disaster if you don't do a little planning and prepping.  Here's a few ideas to keep in mind...

- Keep your tree watered, and make sure your lights are in good working condition.  Check out this You Tube video of how fast a tree can go up in flames. 

- If you are expecting deliveries from Amazon, etc... make arrangements for them not to sit on the front stoop all day.

- If you have boxes from a new TV or something like that, break them down and put them in bags rather than leaving them out by the curb for the whole neighborhood to see.  Of course, a better idea is to use them as cover for killing grass and adding to your garden footprint, or just burn them in a New Year's bonfire.

- Don't go overboard... make it an all cash, paid for celebration... avoid credit if you can.

- Use it as an opportunity to spread the prepping lifestyle and ideas.

- Make sure your gutters are clean in case you get a heavy snow or freezing rain.

- Clean that chimney.

- Be aware of plants that can be poisonous to pets and children.

- Don't forget Charity.


Professional Prepper

Building My Street Cred

Long time readers know that my job has some responsibilities in emergency management and planning and that I work in my work city's Emergency Operations Center during disasters.  For a couple of years I've been a Certified Emergency Management Assistant through the Viginia Emergency Management Association.  I also subscribe to professional journals and am a member of several EM organizations.  I'm at the stage in my career, where I need to do more.

I recently enrolled in American Military University for their highly regarded Master's of Disaster and Emergency Management program to get a graduate degree.  I'll actually start classes in March, and ought to be done in about three years.  AMU is a fairly new institution, having been started in the early 90s with the intent of giving military personnel the ability to earn degrees no matter where in the world they might be stationed.  It's fully accredited and has developed a pretty good reputation.  I've researched numerous on-line and traditional EM and Homeland Security degrees, and the "Masters of Disasters" from AMU fits my needs the best.

I'm also wrapping up my efforts to become a Certified Emergency Manager through the International Association of Emergency Managers.  The training, background and experience required are pretty extensive, and then I'll have to pass a comprehensive exam.  CEM is the "gold standard" in professional certifications in the EM field, and is the next logical step for me.

These are some pretty big steps for me, but I think now is the time.


Big Bang Prepping

Dr. Sheldon Cooper Is A Prepper

My wife and I have recently stumbled across the show, The Big Bang Theory.  Sure, I know it's been on for a number of years, but we hardly ever watch sitcoms and had never seen it.

If you haven't seen it, it's very funny, but of an "adult" nature.  Definitely not family friendly.  But to keep it relevant, empirical evidence suggests that Sheldon Cooper, one of the main characters, is a prepper.

Among his preps:
- 8 day supply of food and water in the bedroom closet
- crossbow in that same closet
- evacuation kit in that same closet
- emergency escape route map for the bedroom
- auxiliary evacuation kit because the living room emergency escape route map doesn't go through the bedroom
- when he wanted to leave town because of crime, he researched cities around the country based on population density and crime rates... he ended up moving to Bozeman, Montana - the heart of the American Redoubt
- he has a bug out bag
- among his favorite shows is the sci-fi, libertarian classic, Firefly

If you haven't seen The Big Bang Theory, and don't mind off color humor, check it out.


I Stand Corrected

Cannery Was Not Raided

It seems the Oath Keepers have withdrawn their story that federal agents demanded customer lists from a LDS cannery in Tennessee.  Southern Belle Prepper investigated and was the first to debunk the story.  Thanks to several readers that sent me the link to her video blog.

I'd love to know how this story got started.  Was it a total fabrication or is there some kernel of truth somewhere at the beginning?  It is interesting that there is so much distrust of parts of our government that so many people immediately believed that this happened.  Of course, there is vast evidence of people in our community being targeted for investigation of one type or another.


Old Can Be Good

Surplus Guns

I recently picked up a copy of Guns & Ammo's "Surplus Firearms" magazine.  I'm sure I've had copies of it over the years, but I don't remember anything like this one.  It really comes across as almost a digest of scholarly work.  Lots of details and lots of obscure firearms.  Everything from a Nepalese .577 0breechloader to Gen. Patton's handguns to the Thompson M1.  Much more detail than what I am used to from a gun magazine.

I was particularly interested in the article on the K98 Mauser.  I have a Mauser K98 that my great uncle sent back from WWII to my Grandpa.  Sometime in the late 40s or early 50s, Grandpa had it "sporterized" by a gunsmith in Spokane.  I've had it for about five years now, and other than admiring the beautiful Monte Carlo stock and the Lyman peep sight, I've never really thought much about it.  After reading the article, I found that it was made in 1939 in the Berlin factory.  It has a ton of proof marks that I'll be getting at with a magnifying glass and doing some more research on.  It's kind of unfortunate that it is not in its original configuration, but it is a really nicely done custom job and took a few deer in its day.  I need to get some ammo for it and take it to the range to sight it in.  I'm also hoping I can find out who the gunsmith was.

If you are interested in old military firearms, pick up a copy of this magazine.  I'd also suggest checking out Jim Rawles' excellent FAQ on pre-1899 guns as survival tools.  While such info doesn't apply to my Mauser, there are tons of Mausers and other very useful firearms that do.

Your Experiences Needed

I'm working on a story about the misperception that equates survivalism with racism and extremism.  Have you faced this?  How did you respond?  Please email me your stories here.  I'll keep it confidential.  Thanks!

Sponsor Of The Week

Our Sponsor of the Week is Essential Packs.  They have every type of emergency kit you can think of, from the office to the car to the pets. They always have different sales going on and you'll find some great prices.  Essential Packs has kits that will make great Christmas presents for the preppers on your list, or for the non-preppers that you want to introduce to the concept.  Check out Essential Packs and please tell them that you heard about them at If It Hits The Fan.


Purchasing OPSEC

They Are Watching

I know that several other blogs have also mentioned this today, but I got the link from a friend in New Zealand and had already decided to write about it tonight.  I have not yet read any of the other blogs' thoughts on the matter.

The Oath Keepers organization put out information that revealed federal agents have gone to a LDS (Mormon) cannery in Tennessee "demanding" that they release their customer list.  The agents were very upset that the cannery did not maintain such records and used "cash and carry."

Now, I don't know if this was a one time thing and they were looking for info on a particular person, if they were on a "fishing expedition," or what, but what if this becomes a nationwide thing?  There have already been cases of FBI agents visiting surplus stores and asking them to track their customers.  What can you do to stay off of the lists?

Grocery Stores:  Those VIP cards offer some great discounts.  But they also give the store all of your purchasing history.  Some writers suggest not using them, but I say use them, but when you fill out the registration form, use bogus information, and then only use cash when purchasing.  No record of you is kept.  You could even have another card under a real registration that you use for your regular grocery shopping if you pay with a debit card.  Just make them easily identifiable or keep them separate.

LDS Canneries:  I've mentioned in the past that I plan to visit our local cannery this winter.  Well, I'll surely be paying in cash and not sharing my address, full name, etc... on any forms.  I think they are just fine with that.

Gear or Surplus Stores:  I'd treat them the same way that I treat the cannery.  Cash is king, and no one needs your address.  Check for surveillance cameras and don't park right in front of the doors so your license plates won't be visible (one of the benefits if you live in a rear plate only state).  If it is a video taped system they probably have reused the tapes so many times that they are almost unreadable, and they probably tape over every 30 days at the most.  If it is an IP-based system, they probably don't store hard copies of every day's activities, and the hard drive gets recorded over every 14 days or so, so surveillance cameras are not a huge concern.

Mail Order: How do you order cases of freeze dried food and stay anonymous?  One way to limit your history is to use pre-paid credit cards.  It adds a bit to the cost, but it ensures nothing gets connected to your bank accounts.  You can also use a money order from 7-11 if you are going totally by mail.  But what about shipping?  Do you have a friend/fellow prepper in the mail room or receiving dock at work that will know to get deliveries for your fake name?  What about an elderly relative who still lives on their own?  Hey, Uncle Joe...  I need to order some things for the house, but I won't be home when they deliver and the neighbor kids might steal it... can I have it sent to your house?  I suggest an elderly relative rather than just a trusted neighbor because, if the big search comes in a few years, there's a chance the relative might have passed by then and won't be able to tell the agents about all the boxes he got for you that time.

As recently as 10-15 years ago, you could have anonymous mail dropping services at a private mailbox facility.  No ID was needed, and you could make up names and pay in cash.  There was a time when I had different survival and gun magazines delivered that way and bought the subscriptions using money orders under an assumed name.  Now, you need ID (although I'm sure there are some that still work on a cash/no questions basis), and unless you are a big time criminal or illegal alien, fake ID is probably not something you want to mess with.  From the days before widespread computer networks, getting a fake ID was a pretty simple matter.  I've got an early 90's book on the subject, and the novel, Unintended Consequences has a pretty good summary of the technique using birth certificates of dead children.  But those techniques are not worth the risk anymore in my opinion.

The biggest problem, though is what you are looking at right now.  Realistically, if they wanted to, the feds could track down most every visitor to If It Hits The Fan, or any other site that might be someday deemed, "subversive."  The day may be coming when, to be perfectly safe, you'll need a separate laptop, bought for cash second hand, and only used for brief periods on different public wi-fi, and never with email or for anything that you buy.  Some might call that idea paranoid, but it could get to the point where survivalists are declared to be the bad guys.  Have a plan B, even if you never have to execute it.


Mental Planning

What Would I Do If...

When I was a cop, I had a habit of mentally planning out "what ifs."  When I pulled up to the quickie mart at 2:30 a.m., I went through different scenarios in my head...  a robbery in progress, or a domestic attack?  When I made a traffic stop... what if the passenger throws out some contraband, or the driver is a wanted felon?  When I sat at a stop light... what if the car coming up behind me doesn't stop in time, or the car pulling up beside me is an ambush?

It can border on paranoia, but it also contributed to keeping me safe and alive.  I still try to keep my senses sharp and map out different scenarios, but probably not as much as I used to.

A couple of things happened today that have crossed my "what if" threshold before.  One was the Va. Tech police officer getting killed in his patrol car while doing a traffic stop on another vehicle.  There were apparently a number of bystanders who saw it happen.  The other was a Va. state trooper got in a shootout on the side of the highway in the county where I used to work.  Reports are that motorists stopped and helped.

As you drive along, have you ever thought about what you might do or how you might react if you saw an officer on a traffic stop getting attacked?  Would you do something different if it was a "resisting arrest" vs. an armed attack?  Do you know what mile marker you are near if you have to call 911?  If the guy shoots the trooper and goes to get back in his car, would you be willing to ram him?  I don't know that anyone can really say for sure how they will react, but by having mentally rehearsed different bad situations, a person is more likely to act and do "something," rather than freeze or panic.


Most Wonderful Time...

Of The Year

Christmas IS great, but the new seed catalogs are starting to arrive!  I got my first one today, from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.  It's time to start planning next year's garden.  Time to work in a layer of horse manure.  Time to plot out my expansion.  What varieties of tomatoes and peppers will go in?  Anything exotic this year?

Long winter nights are the perfect time to plan out your next garden... make the most of it!



Black Friday Was Great For Gun Dealers

It seems that Black Friday was by far a record day for FBI gun purchase background checks, over 115,000 of them.  And, that doesn't include the states like Virginia where they have their own background check system and don't use the FBI, or those gun purchases made by folks with concealed weapon permits in those states where they are exempt from checks.

This article is pretty well balanced, especially considering it is from MSNBC.  They interview the typical Brady bunch nitwit who rationalizes the spike as "marketing," but they also include someone from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and two investment professionals.

Of particular note is the unscientific survey at the end which shows that 80% of respondents think a gun is a pretty good Christmas present.  Of course, I agree with that, so if any of you are looking for a present idea for your favorite blogger....

Winner Of The Sport Berkey

We had a lot of entries, and many of you left very nice messages with your emails.  I assigned each entry a number, then had my wife pick the winning number.  And the winner is.....

Tim from Virginia!  Congratulations to Tim, I'll contact you to get your mailing address.  I sincerely thank everyone who entered and helped spread the word about If It Hits The Fan.  A big thanks as well to The Berkey Guy at Directive 21, who sent me the Sport Berkey bottle!


Book Reviews

American Apocalypse Series

I recently finished reading the four books of the American Apocalypse series, written by "Nova."  I've always been a fan of the post-Apocalypse genre, and was excited to get started with this series, just based on the title alone.  Before starting, I had no idea what the precipitating event that kicks off the Apocalypse was, so every page was a new story.

The basic back story is that there is a sharp economic collapse that takes "Gardener" from being a cubical-dwelling IT guy to a homeless guy living on handouts and scavenged food to a de facto police officer in his community.  Along the way he fights run-of-the-mill bad guys, along with power mad and corrupt political and military big wigs.  The first novel and part of the second one cover everything a person could want in post-Apocalyptic fiction... victory over insurmountable odds, a road trip, a little romance, and growing good-evil ambiguity.  About halfway into the second one, it takes a turn to sci-fi/fantasy with a Nordic goddess becoming a part of the group and even, in the third novel, an appearance by Thor.  Not the comic book superhero, but the Viking god.

I really enjoyed the first two, by the third, it was getting a boring, and by the fourth novel, I was ready for it to be over.  If you like sci-fi/fantasy, you would probably enjoy the entire series more than I did.  It was well written, just not my cup of tea.

Don't Forget The Contest!!

Don't forget to enter our contest to win a free Sport Berkey Water Filter Bottle!  Check out Saturday's post for the details!


Gun Show Extravaganza

Richmond Gun Show Visit

I went to the gun show today.  We have two different long running gun shows in this area, and we usually get probably 8-10 of them a year.  I haven't been in probably a year to a year and a half, so this was going to be interesting.  I didn't have anything in particular I was looking for, so it was really just sightseeing.  My neighbor, Billy, picked me up at a quarter to 10 this morning, and we got to the Showplace at about 10:10, right after they opened the doors.  The line was all the way down the sidewalk with folks waiting to get in.

After paying our $7 (we got $1 off coupons in the mail), we made our way in and began searching the tables.  You know the drill, start in one corner, moving up and down each row methodically so as not to miss anything.  There was plenty of ammo, magazines of all sorts (seems the Koreans are now making M1 carbine mags that look pretty good, but I haven't heard anything about functionality), a ton of Rossi lever action pistols ala Steve McQueen in Wanted: Dead or Alive for about $459, and more "black" guns that you can shake a stick at.  Every type of AR variant you can imagine was available in every price range.  There were tons of .22 caliber clones of ARs and HKs at reasonable prices.  Lots of combat style shotguns, including a couple of the very unusual Mossberg "Chainsaws."  There was the usual selection of jerkey and junky blowguns.  There were more coin dealers than I recall, even a few selling junk silver.  I did not see too many folks selling books like from Paladin Press and the "subversive" topics that I enjoy so much.  The crowd was jam packed when I left a couple hours later, and it looked like people were buying.  I ended up picking up some speed strips and a speed loader for my Colt Agent, and a GI sling for my AR.

I met up with Mike from Austere Provisions Company at the show.  Mike's got an interesting background and he brings that knowledge to APC and his selection of gear that he sells there.  Check out his shop and let him know that you heard about him here at If It Hits The Fan.

Don't Forget the Contest!

Check out yesterday's post and enter to win a free Sport Berkey Filter Water Bottle!


A Day Of Freebies

Sorry I missed putting up a post yesterday... I was sick as a dog with a bad cold that started hitting me on Wednesday and peaked Friday.  Two nights of NyQuil coma and I'm feeling much better today.

My Lucky Day

As I was driving home this afternoon from Christmas shopping, I was about a mile from the house when I saw some trash in the middle of the other lane.  A I passed it, my first thought was "hmm over sized AA batteries..." but then I realized, "nope, 20 gauge shot shells."  I turned around in the next driveway and came back to find that some hunter had lost a box of 20 gauge buckshot.  I found the torn up box, three rounds in perfect shape, and one that had been run over a couple times but looked still pretty good.  I don't actually have a 20 gauge shotgun, but my neighbor does, so it's really his lucky day.
On the home front, I found that the good folks at the post office had delivered a a copy of a new book from The Prepper Press, entitled Holding Your Ground, that they sent me to review for you.  At first glance, it looks like a really useful guidebook to adapting  military and tactical defensive measures and techniques to the home or survival retreat.  I'm really looking forward to reading it thoroughly and reporting back to you on it.

Your Lucky Day

I mentioned earlier that The Berkey Guy at Directive 21 had sent me a Sport Berkey Water Filter Bottle.  Here's your chance to win this great bottle that retails for $24.99.  I love my Sport Berkeys (Berkies?) and use it at work to keep myself hydrated with pure water, as well as keep one in my GHB in the Element for drinking creek or pond water if I have to hike home.  To win this bottle, simply post a direct link (right click on the title - A Day Of Freebies above - and select "Copy Shortcut" then paste it to post on your blog, Facebook page or in a forum discussion, then email me here giving me the link to where you posted it.  If you post it on all three locations, you'll get three entries, but putting it on three different forums or different FB pages or something like that will not count for extras.  I'll give it until 7 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Dec. 7th, then I'll draw a random winner from all the entries.  I'll put the winner's first name on here and send you an email... reply back with your mailing address and I'll get it right out to you.  Good Luck, and thanks for helping to spread the word about If It Hits The Fan!



We Sure Do Consume Some Weird Stuff

There was a time when I was drinking 8-10 Diet Cokes a day.  Here lately, I've gotten it down to four on most days.  I have now officially passed 7 full days without one.  It wasn't the caffeine I was concerned about, it was the aspartame. While it is accepted as safe, it is artificial and a chemical.  It also has a tendency to affect your appetite, so that while your mind thinks, "hey, I'm drinking diet drinks, so I'm not gaining weight," the physiology of your body reacts to the chemical with increased appetite and you end up eating more.  So, I've gotten the aspartame out of my system, I'm drinking 2-3 iced teas (unsweetened) a day, and I think I'm eating less.

What in the world is in cook & serve pudding?  For Thanksgiving, I "helped" my wife by cooking some vanilla pudding for her to make banana pudding for the family luncheon.  On my first batch, I accidentally did it on "high" and scorched it, so I had to make a second batch.  What to do with the first batch?  It was 6 cups of milk and two of the big boxes of pudding.  I did what I do with food that we throw out but don't use for compost, I poured it on a big rock in the front yard for raccoons, skunks and opossums to enjoy.  Wouldn't you know it, five days later, there was still a nasty yellow blob on the rock.  Even scavengers would not eat it.  Makes me think twice before I eat it again.